MELODIUS LAUGHING THRUSH (Garrulax canorus) – Introduced
DESCRIPTION: The Melodious Laughingthrush or Chinese Hwamei is a passerine bird that is mainly brown. It has a white circle around the eye that extends as a line behind it. The bill is yellowish brown, and the legs are pink. Sexes are similar. The bird reaches approximately 9 inches (23 cm) long.
VOICE: http://soundshawaiian.com/mp3/Hwamei.mp3 . The WhatBird website (see reference below) has good song recordings, with one from the Northern Mockingbird for comparison. See videos below also. Chinese hwameis can also imitate the song of other birds.
NAME: The Chinese name ‘Hwamei’ refers to the eye circle feature. The English name ‘Laughing’ stems from the fact that this is a genus of vocal birds. The name ‘Thrush’ is from Anglo-saxon ‘Thryce’, which means ‘thrush’. The Latin genus name ‘Garrulax’ means ‘babbling’, and the species name ‘canorus’ means ‘melodious’.
DIET: This species forages on the ground in forests for seeds, fruit, arthropods and insects.
NESTING: In its native range the bird builds a nest in bamboo groves not far from the ground. About four blueish eggs are laid. Both parents feed the chicks.
DISTRIBUTION: The native range of the Chinese Hwamei is China and Southeast Asia. It was likely introduced to Hawaii in the late 1800s by Chinese sugar plantation workers. Then during the Great Honolulu Chinatown Fire, it is believed that residents released a number of birds to save them from the fire. Since then the species has adapted well and is now common on the main Hawaiian islands.
CONSERVATION: The Chinese Hwamei has a wide range and in spite of being under pressure for the cage bird trade, it is still considered as of ‘least concern’.
NOTES: The melodious laughingthrush is much easier to hear than to see because its plumage blends well with its habitat. It apparently likes bananas though, which can help locate or attract those birds.
The video below is rather an audio of a melodius laughingthrush singing somewhere in the trees of a trail on Oahu. In spite of carefully trying to locate the bird I was unable to find it, yet it was near. If you can see it through the foliage please let me know!
Here’s a ‘mystery’ audio of what seems to be an alarm call, heard at about the same time as the above audio of the Hwamei:
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